Joint civil society position on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Update January 24: after seeing that the negotiations are still unable to find a majority on a strong text, we are issuing a new statement to express our concerns and push Member States to act decisively for effective, comprehensive protection against gender-based violence across the EU. 

End FGM EU, together with a coalition of feminist civil society organisations, call on the EU Institutions to ensure that the Directive truly serves the needs of all survivors/victims of violence against women and girls and domestic violence, advances the achievement of gender equality and the effective protection of victims’ rights in the European Union, and recognizes the essential role of civil society organisations in ensuring prevention, protection, and direct support services for victims.

Find the full Joint Statement here.

Disclaimer: Our organisations work on a diverse range of women's rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.

While we welcome the inclusion of female genital mutilation provisions in the Commission's proposal and the strengthening of the language proposed in the European Parliament report, and while we do not as a Network have a position on all the issues covered by the Directive, we think a truly inclusive, intersectional and comprehensive approach is necessary to eradicate the common roots of violence based on harmful gender norms and stereotypes.

We urge the negotiating institutions to ensure that the Directive meets these important goals in the following key areas:


1. Recognises sex and gender as grounds for violence against women and domestic violence, to ensure the Directive is effective in protecting all victims of such violence.

2. Responds to the specific needs of victims, taking account of the intersecting forms of discrimination that affect their ability to access protection, support, justice and remedy. This includes specific attention paid to certain groups, including LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent
residence status.


3. Includes the criminal offence of rape with a consent-based definition.

4. Includes the criminal offences proposed by the European Commission, and the criminal offences of intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace.


5. Strengthens access to justice and protection of victims, including safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure women and girls are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status.

6. Strengthens compensation for victims.


7. Guarantees comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist services.

8. Guarantees adequate and tailored support for child victims.

9. Guarantees access to comprehensive medical care including sexual and reproductive health services as part of specialist support services available to victims of sexual violence, including the clinical management of rape and access to safe and legal abortion.


10. Includes widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to ensure comprehensive sexuality education.

These calls are further detailed in the joint civil society position, linked hereafter.